Professional amateurs

Professional amateurs

Professional amateurs (also Pro-Ams or ProAms) is a conceptual term to describe a blurring between the separate distinctions of professional and amateur within any endeavor or attainable skill that could be labeled professional, whether it is in the field of writing, sports, computer programming, music, film, etc.

The term "professional amateur" has long had meaning and significance in any endeavour where a professional contingent exists. It is probably most recognizable in the field of sports, where those who play at highly competitive or skilled level, but are not paid, are often called Pro-Ams.

Note that the term Pro-Am could also refer to a contest in which professionals play with amateurs, especially in golf.

Historical shift

The 20th century witnessed the rise of many new professionals in fields such as medicine, science, education and politics. Amateurs and their sometimes ramshackle organizations were driven out by people who knew what they were doing and had certificates to prove it.

This historic shift is now reversing with Pro-Ams: people who pursue amateur activities to professional standards are increasingly an important part of the society and economy of developed nations. Their leisure is not passive but active and participatory. Their contribution involves the deployment of publicly accredited knowledge and skills, and is often built up over a long career involving sacrifices and frustrations.

Pro-Am Revolution

Recently, the term Pro-Am has been used as a descriptor for an emerging sociological and economic trend. This has been described by a UK think tank, Demos, in the book "The Pro-Am Revolution: How enthusiasts are changing our economy and society" (2004), by Charles Leadbeater and Paul Miller.

Pro-Ams occur in populations that have more leisure time and live longer, allowing the pursuit of hobbies and interests at a professional level. For example, authors of encyclopedia articles have traditionally been paid professionals, but recently amateurs have entered the field, participating in projects such as Wikipedia. Other Pro-Am fields include astronomy, activism, surfing, software development, education, and music production and distribution. Open source/Free Software such as GNU/Linux was developed by paid professionals at companies such as Red Hat, HP and IBM together with Pro-Ams, and has become a major competitor to Microsoft.

::—excerpts, "The Pro-Am Revolution" (2004)

ee also

*User innovation


* [ "The Pro-Am Revolution"] - full text available as PDF
*Andrew Keen (2007), "The Cult of the Amateur". ISBN 9780385520805

External links

* [ Pro-Am Revolution blog]
* [ Charles Leadbeater: The rise of the amateur professional] , video lecture at TED, July 2005.

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